If a cure, and ultimately a prevention, for such disorders as schizophrenia, autism or Alzheimer's can be developed in our lifetime, it will save trillions of dollars in medical and patient-care costs and a lifetime of family heartaches.
President Obama will soon declare a second "decade of the brain." The project is a good idea, but don't hold your breath that it will lead to any quick clinical breakthroughs or deep insights into human consciousness.
Throughout every day and night, an area of your brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) "listens in" on your body's chemical state and responds by actively tinkering with the sensitivity of other neural pathways. This overturns a long-held belief about the brain.
Neuroscience has grown from a subdiscipline of biology to a field in its own right, with its own proliferating subdisciplines. In coming decades, it will rival and then surpass the influence of the older physical sciences. This is the era of the brain supremacy.
It was an honor to interact with scientists who are going in directions where no one has gone before in neuroscientific research. It's good to know we have people on the planet excited about the questions no one has yet to answer.